7 Ways Your Hammertoe May Be Treated

Jan 12, 2024
7 Ways Your Hammertoe May Be Treated
If you frequently wear shoes that are too tight, you may be in danger of developing a painful hammertoe at some point. Learn more about hammertoe deformities and what nonsurgical treatments are available to correct them.

Hammertoes don’t form overnight, but they can become progressively worse if you don’t seek treatment.

At Foot and Ankle Specialists in Memorial City, The Woodlands, and Huntsville, Texas, our highly skilled podiatrists offer several effective therapies to correct a hammertoe. We focus on the least invasive option to improve the position of your toe so you can find lasting relief from your pain.

Why you have a hammertoe

A hammertoe is a foot deformity that develops in the second, third, and fourth toes. This condition is often the result of an imbalance in the muscles of your toes, which increases pressure on your joints and tendons.

Muscle imbalances are more common in people with a family history of hammertoes, those who wear tight or narrow shoes, and individuals with neuromuscular disease or diabetes. Trauma to your toes can also make a hammertoe more likely.

As pressure mounts, the affected toe is pulled sideways. The toe eventually forms a C-shape. Over time, it becomes increasingly difficult to straighten or move your toe as you normally would.

Besides the noticeable deformity, symptoms of hammertoe include pain at the bend in the affected toe or in the ball of your foot. You might also develop swelling or thick calluses at the top of your toe joint.

7 nonsurgical treatments for hammertoe

Ideally, you should seek treatment for your hammertoe as early as possible, so our podiatrists can use less invasive treatments to correct your deformity. We offer several nonsurgical solutions, including:

  1. Splinting
  2. Taping and padding
  3. Custom orthotics
  4. Oral anti-inflammatories
  5. Cortisone injections
  6. Stretching exercise recommendations
  7. Suggestions for supportive footwear

If the bend in your toe is already severe or nonsurgical treatments aren’t working well, our podiatrists can discuss your options for surgery.

Expectations for hammertoe surgery

At Foot and Ankle Specialists, we perform hammertoe surgery on an outpatient basis with minimal anesthesia.

During surgery, your physician makes an incision in your affected toe and cuts the contracted tendon to release it. They may also remove small pieces of bone to give your toe greater flexibility.

If bone removal is necessary, your surgeon can use a small silicone implant to keep your toe bones in their proper positions.

Hammertoe surgery usually takes about an hour, and you can expect to be back to your usual routine within a few days.

Tips for preventing hammertoes

While there’s no guarantee that you can prevent a hammertoe, especially if you’re genetically predisposed to the condition, there are strategies you can use to protect your toe from becoming deformed.

These strategies include:

  • Avoiding high heels
  • Using ice to minimize swelling
  • Removing calluses with a pumice stone
  • Getting sufficient exercise to keep toe muscles and tendons loose

Wearing supportive, well-fitting shoes is also key to preventing hammertoes. Because the shape of your feet changes over time, you can speak with our podiatrists about getting your feet measured so the shoes you buy will fit properly.

To schedule a hammertoe evaluation, call the Foot and Ankle Specialists office near you today, or book an appointment online anytime.